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  1. While there have been other Chinese vegetable topics in the past, few of them were illustrated And some which were have lost those images in various "upgrades". What I plan to do is photograph every vegetable I see and say what it is, if I know. However, this is a formidable task so it'll take time. The problem is that so many vegetables go under many different Chinese names and English names adopted from one or other Chinese language, too. For example, I know four different words for 'potato' and know there are more. And there are multiple regional preference in nomenclature. Most of what you will see will be vegetables from supermarkets, where I can see the Chinese labelling. In "farmer's" or wet markets, there is no labelling and although, If I ask, different traders will have different names for the same vegetable. Many a time I've been supplied a name, but been unable to find any reference to it from Mr Google or his Chinese counterparts. Or if I find the Chinese, can't find an accepted translation so have to translate literally. Also, there is the problem that most of the names which are used in the English speaking countries have, for historical reasons, been adopted from Cantonese, whereas 90% of Chinese speak Mandarin (普通话 pǔ tōng huà). But I will do my best to supply as many alternative names as I can find. I shall also attempt to give Chinese names in simplified Chinese characters as used throughout mainland China and then in traditional Chinese characters, now mainly only used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and among much of the Chinese diaspora. If I only give one version, that means they are the same in Simp and Trad. I'll try to do at least one a day. Until I collapse under the weight of vegetation. Please, if you know any other names for any of these, chip in. Also, please point out any errors of mine. I'll start with bok choy/choy. This is and alternatives such as pak choi or pok choi are Anglicised attempts at the Cantonese pronunciation of the Mandarin! However in Cantonese it is more often 紹菜; Jyutping: siu6 coi3. In Chinese it is 白菜. Mandarin Pinyin 'bái cài'. This literally means 'white vegetable' but really just means 'cabbage' and of course there are many forms of cabbage. Merely asking for bái cài in many a Chinese store or restaurant will be met with blank stares and requests to clarify. From here on I'm just going to translate 白菜 as 'cabbage'. So, here we go. Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis This is what you may be served if you just ask for baicai. Or maybe not. In much of China it is 大白菜 dà bái cài meaning 'big cabbage'. In English, usually known as Napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese leaf, etc. In Chinese, alternative names include 结球白菜 / 結球白菜 ( jié qiú bái cài ), literally knotted ball cabbage, but there are many more. This cabbage is also frequently pickled and becomes known as 酸菜 (Mand: suān cài; Cant: syun1 coi3) meaning 'sour vegetable', although this term is also used to refer to pickled mustard greens. Pickled cabbage.
  2. An eG member recently asked me by private message about mushrooms in China, so I thought I'd share some information here. What follows is basically extracted from my blog and describes what is available in the markets and supermarkets in the winter months - i.e now. FRESH FUNGI December sees the arrival of what most westerners deem to be the standard mushroom – the button mushroom (小蘑菇 xiǎo mó gū). Unlike in the west where they are available year round, here they only appear when in season, which is now. The season is relatively short, so I get stuck in. The standard mushroom for the locals is the one known in the west by its Japanese name, shiitake. They are available year round in the dried form, but for much of the year as fresh mushrooms. Known in Chinese as 香菇 (xiāng gū), which literally means “tasty mushroom”, these meaty babies are used in many dishes ranging from stir fries to hot pots. Second most common are the many varieties of oyster mushroom. The name comes from the majority of the species’ supposed resemblance to oysters, but as we are about to see the resemblance ain’t necessarily so. The picture above is of the common oyster mushroom, but the local shops aren’t common, so they have a couple of other similar but different varieties. Pleurotus geesteranus, 秀珍菇 (xiù zhēn gū) (below) are a particularly delicate version of the oyster mushroom family and usually used in soups and hot pots. 凤尾菇 (fèng wěi gū), literally “Phoenix tail mushroom”, is a more robust, meaty variety which is more suitable for stir frying. Another member of the pleurotus family bears little resemblance to its cousins and even less to an oyster. This is pleurotus eryngii, known variously as king oyster mushroom, king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom or, in Chinese 杏鲍菇 (xìng bào gū). It is considerably larger and has little flavour or aroma when raw. When cooked, it develops typical mushroom flavours. This is one for longer cooking in hot pots or stews. One of my favourites, certainly for appearance are the clusters of shimeji mushrooms. Sometimes known in English as “brown beech mushrooms’ and in Chinese as 真姬菇 zhēn jī gū or 玉皇菇 yù huáng gū, these mushrooms should not be eaten raw as they have an unpleasantly bitter taste. This, however, largely disappears when they are cooked. They are used in stir fries and with seafood. Also, they can be used in soups and stews. When cooked alone, shimeji mushrooms can be sautéed whole, including the stem or stalk. There is also a white variety. Next up we have the needle mushrooms. Known in Japanese as enoki, these are tiny headed, long stemmed mushrooms which come in two varieties – gold (金針菇 jīn zhēn gū) and silver (银针菇 yín zhēn gū)). They are very delicate, both in appearance and taste, and are usually added to hot pots. Then we have these fellows – tea tree mushrooms (茶树菇 chá shù gū). These I like. They take a bit of cooking as the stems are quite tough, so they are mainly used in stews and soups. But their meaty texture and distinct taste is excellent. These are also available dried. Then there are the delightfully named 鸡腿菇 jī tuǐ gū or “chicken leg mushrooms”. These are known in English as "shaggy ink caps". Only the very young, still white mushrooms are eaten, as mature specimens have a tendency to auto-deliquesce very rapidly, turning to black ‘ink’, hence the English name. Not in season now, but while I’m here, let me mention a couple of other mushrooms often found in the supermarkets. First, straw mushrooms (草菇 cǎo gū). Usually only found canned in western countries, they are available here fresh in the summer months. These are another favourite – usually braised with soy sauce – delicious! When out of season, they are also available canned here. Then there are the curiously named Pig Stomach Mushrooms (猪肚菇 zhū dù gū). These are another favourite. They make a lovely mushroom omelette. Also, a summer find. And finally, not a mushroom, but certainly a fungus and available fresh is the wood ear (木耳 mù ěr). It tastes of almost nothing, but is prized in Chinese cuisine for its crunchy texture. More usually sold dried, it is available fresh in the supermarkets now. Please note that where I have given Chinese names, these are the names most commonly around this part of China, but many variations do exist. Coming up next - the dried varieties available.
  3. Hello all, I need help figuring out which part of the sichuan peppercorns I bought to use. From what I've read, I think I'm supposed to use the hulls rather than the black seeds. Toast the hulls and grind them up, correct? This is for use in my fave dish, mapo tofu. Thanks for your help! (Well, that didn't work. I guess I don't know how to upload a photo. Nuts. Maybe I don't need a photo? Maybe just tell me whether to use the hulls or the black seeds, or both?)
  4. 潮州小吃 -- Wandering Fujian raw markets, eating street food and crazy seafood banquets, mostly in Cantonese. 鸭血粉丝汤 -- Making duck blood soup. 河南拉面美眉 -- Henan girl whipping the dough. 西安小吃中地回民街 -- Hui Chinese street food in Xi'an. 鱼香肉丝 -- Cooking Yu Xiang Rou Si. etc.
  5. Retirement can do strange things to people I have an uncle who has always been a bit of DIY freak. As he and my aunt get older - they are becoming more and more careful of what kind of food they eat. Now that that they don't have growing kids to feed - they try to eat as much organic food as possible and grow alot it themselves. News reports out of HK last year detailed alot of the lack of quality controls in foods produced in China - so they decided to start making their own soy sauce. I wanted to provide a little update as to how this is done - and I was surprised that it was not as hard as you might think - just a little time and care. My uncle remembers growing up in post war Hong Kong when food was scarce and making ends meet was not easy. The war had left my grandmother virtually broke (from bribing officials to keep her kids safe), widowed, and still having to find a way to feed 8 kids. One easy source of protein was to make miso at home - fermented soy beans that was cooked with a little pickled plum and rock sugar. My uncle said it seemd like the most delicous food at the time. Making soy sauce is simply removing the liquid that the soy beans are fermented in. They still end up with miso that they use as a condiment for cooking things like fish and pork - it gives a plumlike sourness . Now in Vancouver - we don't get as much sun as we would like - so the fermeted soy mash does not cook in the sun for as long as it should - so there is more acidity in it then you would find in industrial soy. Still - its pretty good. Dried organic soy beans are cooked till they are soft and fall apart into a meal when squeezed between your fingers. The soy beans are mixed with flour - ratio that my uncle uses is 16 oz of soy beans (dry weight) is mixed with 12 oz of flour. The beans and flour is kneaded together to make a loaf. My uncle says that from what he's seen, alot of industrial producers skip this step. The loaf is then cut up into disks - and the whole basket is wrapped in layers of towels to promote mold growth. The mold growth part takes about a week - I will take some pictures then if the mold takes hold like it should. The saltiness for the soy sauce will come later when the fremented disks are soaked in a brine that contains 8 oz of salt. It's funny - the salt water has been prepared for a few weeks now. Large containers sitting out in the sun (under plexiglass). I actually don't understand why this needs to be done - but my uncle says that my grandmother would always let the sun cook out the water - sometimes for a whole month. Perhaps this was a way to remove impurities - when tap water was not so safe - and nowadays, it may be good to let some of the chemicals used to treat water, evaporate off. Vancouver is notorious for its use of cholrine. Hopefully the mold will take hold and I will have new pictures soon. BTW - I have no idea what kind of mold takes hold and how my uncle ensures that it is not some killer strain. So - that's my attempt at a legal disclaimer.
  6. It is possibly not well-known that China has some wonderful hams, up there with the best that Spain can offer. This lack of wide -knowledge, at least in the USA, is mainly down to regulations forbidding their importation. However, for travellers to China and those in places with less restrictive policies, here are some of the best. This article from the WSJ is a good introduction to one of the best - Xuanwei Ham 宣威火腿 (xuān wēi huǒ tuǐ) from Yunnan province. This Ingredient Makes Everything Better I can usually obtain Xuanwei ham here around the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival, but I also have a good friend who lives in Yunnan who sends me regular supplies. The article compares it very favourably with jamon iberico, a sentiment with which I heartily agree. Xuanwei Ham Xuanwei Ham more coming soon.
  7. I guess I do about half my food shopping in my local farmers' market and the other half in supermarkets. Today, I went to my favourite supermarket. They have lovely, very fresh vegetables, great fish and well... there isn't much they don't have. Here are a few pictures, beginning with the vegetable section:
  8. Mid-Autumn festival is still a month away but mooncakes are starting to rear their ugly heads in SF Chinatown. I know people who actually like them, but I suspect most people view them as China's version of the fruitcake. They're for giving, not for eating, and you sort of know that whomever you give them to will give them to someone else. (At least that's my view.) Do you like mooncakes? If so, what style do you prefer, the Cantonese varieties that have everything but the kitchen sink in them, or the more spartan northern style? Meat-filled Jiangsu-style? Ice Cream mooncakes (I kid you not)? Any mooncake memories?
  9. Probably a stupid question, but just wondered what Chinese Five Spice Powder is used in? Specific dishes, or everything? Thanks!
  10. A few weeks ago I bought a copy of this cookbook which is a best-selling spin off from the highly successful television series by China Central Television - A Bite of China as discussed on this thread. . The book was published in August 2013 and is by Chen Zhitian (陈志田 - chén zhì tián). It is only available in Chinese (so far). There are a number of books related to the television series but this is the only one which seems to be legitimate. It certainly has the high production standards of the television show. Beautifully photographed and with (relatively) clear details in the recipes. Here is a sample page. Unlike in most western cookbooks, recipes are not listed by main ingredient. They are set out in six vaguely defined chapters. So, if you are looking for a duck dish, for example, you'll have to go through the whole contents list. I've never seen an index in any Chinese book on any subject. In order to demonstrate the breadth of recipes in the book and perhaps to be of interest to forum members who want to know what is in a popular Chinese recipe book, I have sort of translated the contents list - 187 recipes. This is always problematic. Very often Chinese dishes are very cryptically named. This list contains some literal translations. For some dishes I have totally ignored the given name and given a brief description instead. Any Chinese in the list refers to place names. Some dishes I have left with literal translations of their cryptic names, just for amusement value. I am not happy with some of the "translations" and will work on improving them. I am also certain there are errors in there, too. Back in 2008, the Chinese government issued a list of official dish translations for the Beijing Olympics. It is full of weird translations and total errors, too. Interestingly, few of the dishes in the book are on that list. Anyway, for what it is worth, the book's content list is here (Word document) or here (PDF file). If anyone is interested in more information on a dish, please ask. For copyright reasons, I can't reproduce the dishes here exactly, but can certainly describe them. Another problem is that many Chinese recipes are vague in the extreme. I'm not one to slavishly follow instructions, but saying "enough meat" in a recipe is not very helpful. This book gives details (by weight) for the main ingredients, but goes vague on most condiments. For example, the first dish (Dezhou Braised Chicken), calls for precisely 1500g of chicken, 50g dried mushroom, 20g sliced ginger and 10g of scallion. It then lists cassia bark, caoguo, unspecified herbs, Chinese cardamom, fennel seed, star anise, salt, sodium bicarbonate and cooking wine without suggesting any quantities. It then goes back to ask for 35g of maltose syrup, a soupçon of cloves, and "the correct quantity" of soy sauce. Cooking instructions can be equally vague. "Cook until cooked". A Bite of China - 舌尖上的中国- ISBN 978-7-5113-3940-9
  11. It's lotus pod season here in southern China. We get dried lotus seeds all year round and there is nothing wrong with them! But at this time of year, for a few weeks, we get roadside vendors selling fresh lotus pods. The idea is to pop out the seeds and eat them as they are. I've never seen these in supermarkets or even regular markets - always street vendors. Anyway, the two in the picture below cost me a massive 2元 each (31 cents US; 20 pence UK). Here are the popped out seeds But what do they taste like? I can't improve on this: Mulan was sitting on a low chair, picking lotus seeds from a pod in her hand, and looking at the lake through the red balustrades. Redjade, having been brought up in Hangchow, was quite familiar with such things and was working away at the seeds with her nimble fingers, sitting at a high table with Afei and Huan-erh. Mr. Yao lounged in a low rattan chair. Lifu was sitting close to Mulan on the balcony and watching her pick the seeds. He had eaten sugared lotus seeds, but he had never eaten them fresh from the pod, and was staring with great interest. “Do you eat them raw like that?” he asked rather foolishly. “Of course,” said Mulan, and she took one she had just plucked out and gave it to him. Lifu tasted it and said, “It is good, but different from the sugared ones. It is so mild you almost don’t taste anything.” “That is just it,” said Mulan. “We eat it just for its pure mildness and its slight fragrance. That is why a busy man cannot enjoy it. You must not think of anything when you eat it.” Mulan showed him how to pick a seed, and after eating it, Lifu exclaimed with delight. “If you shout, you will lose the flavor again,” said Mulan. “You must chew them slowly, one by one. After a while, take a sip of good tea and you will find a pure fragrance in your cheeks and palate for a long time.” Lin Yutang – Moment in Peking, 1939
  12. Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic. The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and lead us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large". We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong. The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels. By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty. This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window! Then into lunch: Chicken Soup The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious. Stir fried lotus root Daikon Radish Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked. Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable Fried Beans Steamed Pumpkin Chicken Beef with Bitter Melon Glutinous (Sticky) Rice Oranges The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos. After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation. Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil. As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves. And here they are: After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
  13. I have just returned home to China from an almost two week trip to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. To get there I first travelled by train to the provincial capital, Nanning. The local airport only does domestic flights, whereas there are direct flights from Nanning. The flight time required that I stay overnight at the Aviation Hotel in Nanning, from which there is a regular direct bus to the airport. The trip to Nanning is about an hour and a half and passes through some nice karst scenery. After booking into the hotel, I set off for my favourite Nanning eating destination. Zhongshan Night market is a well known spot and very popular with the locals. I had forgotten that it was a local holiday - the place is always busy, but that night it was exceptionally so. It consists of one long street with hundreds of stalls and is basically a seafood market, although there are a few stalls selling alternatives. Filled myself with seafood (and some of that blood sausage above), slept soundly and, next morning, flew to Ho Chi Minh City. The rest of my trip can be seen here:
  14. Years ago, when I visited Tokyo, I ate in a small but fascinating restaurant called 'It's Vegetable' which is now, unfortunately, closed. The chef was from Taiwan, and he made Buddhist vegetarian and vegan dishes that resembled meat. During my visit, several monks wearing robes stopped in to eat dinner. The dishes were pretty amazing. I understood some of them, like using seitan to mimic chicken in stir fry dishes, others used tofu products like yuba, but, others were complex and obviously difficult. One very notable dish we enjoyed was a large 'fish' fillet designed to serve several people. It had a 'skin' made of carefully layered 'scales' cut from nori and attached to the surface. Inside, the white 'flesh' flaked and tasted much like a mild fish. Anyway, apparently Buddhist fake meat meals are very popular in Taiwan and many places, cheap through to fine dining serve them. Yes, if I worked on it for a while, I could probably refine one or two dishes on my own, but, I am wondering if there's a Modernist Cuisine type cookbook for skillfully making these mock meats from scratch? (I have heard that some items are commercially made and available frozen there, much like soy-based burgers are in the US.) I am willing to try almost any offering, even if it's entirely in Chinese. And, I know how to use remailers to purchase regional items from the various local retailers worldwide who do not ship to the US.
  15. China television is currently showing a series "A Bite of China" on everyday cooking. It's in Chinese, of course. But even if you don't know Chinese the images will have you drooling. Episode one is on YouTube here. To find further episodes search YT for 舌尖上的中国
  16. Today is 元宵 yuán xiāo, the Lantern Festival marking the 15th day of the first lunar month and the last day of the Spring Festival (春节 chūn jié) which begins with the Chinese New Year on the 1st of the lunar month. Today is the day for eating 汤圆 tāng yuán, sweet glutinous rice balls. I was invited to take part in a celebration ceremony this morning in what is considered to be the city's most beautiful park. I half agree. It lies in the south of the city, surrounded by karst hill formations, but for me, the park itself is over-manicured. I like a bit of wild. That said, there are said to be around 700 species of wildlife, but most of that is on the inaccessible hills. There are pony rides for the kids and some of the locals are a bit on the wild side. Park Entrance Karst Hill Although the park has beautiful flower displays and great trees, what I love most is the bamboo. Such a beautiful plant and so useful. They had also hung the traditional red lanterns on some of the trees. The main reason for us to be there was to be entertained by, at first, these three young men who bizarrely welcomed us with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne played on their bamboo wind instruments - I forget what they are called. They are wearing the traditional dress of the local Zhuang ethnic minority. Then some local school kids sang for us and did a short play in English. Clap, clap, clap. Then on to the main event. We were asked to form groups around one of four tables looking like this. Appetising, huh? What we have here at top is a dough made from glutinous rice flour. Then below black sesame paste and ground peanut paste. We are about to learn to make Tangyuan, glutinous rice balls. Basically you take a lump of dough, roll it into a ball, then flatten it, then form a cup shape. add some of each or either of the two pastes and reform the ball to enclose the filling. Simple! Maybe not. Some of us were more successful than others These are supposed to be white, but you can see the filling - not good; its like having egg showing all over the outside of your scotch eggs. Modesty Shame prevents me telling you which were mine. At least one person seemed to think bigger is better! No! They are meant to be about an inch in diameter. Sometimes size does matter! Finally the balls we had made were taken away to be boiled in the park's on-site restaurant. What we were served were identically sized balls with no filling showing. They are served in this sweet ginger soup. The local pigs probably had ours for lunch. The orange-ish and purplish looking ones are made in the same way, but using red and black glutinous rice instead. Fun was had, which was the whole point.
  17. Today is 小年 (xiǎo nián) which literally means 'little [new] year', but is something more. It takes place approximately a week before Chinese New Year (February 16th this time round - Year of the Dog) and is the festival for the Kitchen God In traditional animist Chinese thought, there is a god for everything and the kitchen god is responsible for all aspects of, you guessed, the kitchen. Once a year (today), the kitchen god pops back to report to the god of heaven on the happenings of the last 12 months. Therefore we have to placate him so he makes a good report. My neighbours are busy preparing offerings of sticky rice and assorted sugary confections for the god, so that when he eats them, his teeth and lips will stick together and he will be unable to report any bad behaviour. An alternative theory suggest the sugary stuff will sweeten his words. Then we'll be OK for another year! This is the fellow
  18. Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture. First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new. So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with. This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions. Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look. Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look: As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover. The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional. The children don't get spared either This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General. After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures. Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine. The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door. Then you have the ritual hand washing part. Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil. On a nearby table is this Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls. with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok. This is 油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it. L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos. Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use. Let the eating, finally, begin. In no particular order: Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato Bamboo Shoots Duck Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed. Egg pancake with unidentified greenery Stir fried pork and beans Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum) Pig Ears This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it. Stir fried Greens Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice). Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious. Roll on dinner time. On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
  19. Hi all, I'm sorry if this has already been asked, but I just couldn't find the answer to this from browsing this forum or googling (even in multiple language encodings). Does anyone know the actual recipe for these knife-shaven noodles? Googling only gives me restaurant reviews, and the closest my set of wei-chuan books get is a recipe on "cat ear" noodles. I know that these noodles can be cooked in pretty much whatever flavor of soup base it seems, but I'm only interested right now in the recipe for the pasta dough itself.. Thanks, Bert
  20. I had my noodle fix this week. Once at the Chinatown Express in DC china town, where I had noodle soup with roast pig. The other was at a korean Ja Jang Mein place in NOVA. I had Ja Jang Mein. They were both good and excellent and had the hand pulled noodles in common. As I watched the noodle maker streching and tossing the noodles, I wondered if I could do it. Have any of you made noodles by hand by the streching method (not via pasta machine or cutting with a knife). I would appreciate if you could share the recipe and experience. I'm hoping to give it a try....It just can't be easy as the people I was watching seem to make it. Soup
  21. We are all used to unami now. Maybe it's time to consider gan. Particularly found in teas, but also in other foods. An interesting article from a great magazine. Going, going gan
  22. Hello there, I have a recipe that I started making again. It's Chinese Chicken Salad and uses red ginger threads in syrup as an ingredient in the recipe (the ginger and the syrup). If you're familiar with the restaurant Chin Chin in Los Angeles, they uses this ingredient in their version as well. In any case, I am unable to locate it anywhere. I used to find it in any Chinese Supermarket in LA, but not now. Anyone have a clue where I can find it, and why it has mysteriously disappeared? (I had a theory that red dye was used to make the ginger red and they ran into trouble with the FDA, but that's just my own theory). thanks! While it may be tempted to recommend ginger in brine or such, this is not the same thing :-) (see pic for the one I seek). Photo from web site WaiYeeHong.com
  23. I’m an idiot. It’s official. A couple of weeks back, on another thread, the subject of celtuce and its leafing tops came up (somewhat off-topic). Someone said that the tops are difficult to find in Asian markets and I replied that I also find the tops difficult to find here in China. Nonsense. They are very easy to find. They just go under a completely different name from the stems – something which had slipped my very slippery mind. So, here on-topic is some celtuce space. First, for those who don’t know what celtuce is, let me say it is a variety of lettuce which looks nothing like a lettuce. It is very popular in southern mainland China and Taiwan. It is also known in English as stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, or Chinese lettuce. In Chinese it is 莴笋 wō sǔn or 莴苣 wō jù, although the latter can simply mean lettuce of any variety. Lactuca sativa var. asparagina is 'celtuce' for the technically minded. Those in the picture are about 40 cm (15.7 inches) long and have a maximum diameter of 5 cm (2 inches). The stems are usually peeled, sliced and used in various stir fries, although they can also be braised, roasted etc. The taste is somewhere between lettuce and celery, hence the name. The texture is more like the latter. The leafing tops are, as I said, sold separately and under a completely different name. They are 油麦菜 yóu mài cài. These taste similar to Romaine lettuce and can be eaten raw in salads. In Chinese cuisine, they are usually briefly stir fried with garlic until they wilt and served as a green vegetable – sometimes with oyster sauce. If you can find either the stems or leaves in your Asian market, I strongly recommend giving them a try.
  24. “… and so it begins!” Welcome to “Tales from the Fragrant Harbour”! In the next couple of days I am hoping to take you to a little excursion to Hong Kong to explore the local food and food culture as well as maybe a little bit more about my personal culinary background. I hope I can give you a good impression of what life is like on this side of the globe and am looking very forward to answering questions, engaging in spirited discussions and just can share a bit of my everyday life with you. Before starting with the regular revealing shots of my fridge’s content and some more information on myself, I’d like to start this blog and a slightly different place. For today's night, I ‘d like to report back from Chiba city, close to Tokyo, Japan. It’s my last day of a three day business trip and it’s a special day here in Japan: “Doyou no ushi no hi”. The “midsummer day of the ox”, which is actually one of the earlier (successful) attempts of a clever marketing stunt. As sales of the traditional winter dish “Unagi” (grilled eel with sweet soy sauce) plummeted in summer, a clever merchant took advantage of the folk tale that food items starting with the letter “U” (like ume = sour plum and uri = gourd) dispel the summer heat, so he introduced “Unagi” as a new dish best enjoyed on this day. It was successful, and even in the supermarkets the sell Unagi-Don and related foods. Of course, I could not resist to take advantage and requested tonight dinner featuring eel. Thnaks to our kind production plant colleagues, I had what I was craving … (of course the rest of the food was not half as bad) Todays suggestion: Unagi (grilled eel) and the fitting Sake ! For starters: Seeweed (upper left), raw baby mackerel with ginger (upper right) and sea snails. I did not care for the algae, but the little fishes were very tasty. Sahimi: Sea bream, Tuna and clam ... Tempura: Shrimp, Okra, Cod and Mioga (young pickled ginger sprouts). Shioyaki Ayu: salt-grilled river fish. I like this one a lot. I particularly enjoy the fixed shape mimicking the swimming motion. The best was the tail fin Wagyu: "nuff said ... Gourd. With a kind of jellied Oden stock. Nice ! Unagi with Sansho (mountain pepper) So, so good. Rich and fat and sweet and smoky. I could eat a looooot of that ... Chawan Mushi:steamed egg custard. A bit overcooked. My Japanese hosts very surprised when I told them that I find it to be cooked at to high temperatures (causing the custard to loose it's silkiness), but they agreed. Part of the experience was of course the Sake. I enjoyed it a lot but whether this is the one to augment the taste of the Unagi I could not tell ... More Unagi (hey it's only twice per year) ... Miso soup with clams ... Tiramisu. Outside view of the restaurant. Very casual! On the way home I enjoyed a local IPA. Craft beer is a big thing in Japan at the moment (as probably anywhere else in the world), so at 29 oC in front of the train station I had this. Very fruity … When I came back to the hotel, the turn down service had made my bed and placed a little Origami crane on my pillow. You just have to love this attention to detail.
  25. One of my local supermarkets recently installed a sesame seed pressing facility and is now producing sesame oil and sesame paste. Their equipment toasts and extracts the oil and the residue is turned into the paste. Of course, I bought some of each. I have only used the oil so far. It tastes and smells more intensely than any I have bought before. The aroma also seems to last longer in a dish. These are the white seed versions. They also do black seed oil and paste which I haven't bought yet. Neither has any brand label - only a bar code on the back so that the check-out staff can deal with it. I am sorely tempted to try this recipe from Carolyn Philips for celtuce with sesame oil, paste and seeds. I'll let you know how I get on with this or any other recipe. Suggestions welcome, as always.
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